instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, December 04, 2003

What is the best attested color of the sky on your planet?

Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor offers a fifty-year-old passage that strikes a chord of sympathy with me:
In my world we say, ‘The first world-war took place in 1914–1918.’ In that world they say, ‘The world-war narrative took shape in the third decade of the twentieth century.’
In my own limited exposure to the world of Bible critics, I haven't sensed much in the way of a thirst for discovering and sharing truth. Especially the sharing part. I haven't heard a lot of, "Hey, everybody! What about this?", but a fair amount of, "Those of us no longer living in the Dark Ages are mature enough to accept this."

Of course, I'm on the down-wind side of what is fundamentally an academic exercise, and academics do run the risk of coming across as pedantic rather than enthusiastic, especially when faced with those who, rightly or wrongly, do not accept the current academic orthodoxies.

But I still have this nagging suspicion that Scripture scholars have a dirty little secret they don't want you to know, to wit: They're just making stuff up.

I mean, sure, they know a whole lot more about what they're making stuff up from than I do, and a whole lot more than Scripture scholars knew in years and centuries past. But their methodologies are, of necessity, made up -- which is not to say arbitrary or unreasonable -- and their conclusions are, in layman's terms, guesses.

Anybody who thinks guesses have no role in understanding Scripture hasn't spent much time reading the Church Fathers, but the words "I am therefore guessing that" have a way of fading away as what's being guessed passes from academia through media and pulpit to the Christian faithful.

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